Brothers and Sisters,

Today, March 27, 2020, Governor Cuomo directed all non-essential construction sites to close, joining Local 79 in prioritizing the safety and health of our members and our families.

This directive means that some of you will be laid off, and I know your first thoughts are how you’ll support your families and what the future will look like. Please know your concerns are MY first thoughts, too. When I took my oath of office, I promised I would stand with you, fight for you and serve you through the good times and the difficult ones. We are now in a difficult time, and I will fight like hell to get us all through it, which we WILL.  

We are working closely with the fund to assess all options. While these efforts are underway, this is what is available to assist you and your families today:

  • Unemployment Insurance.  NYS is taking new unemployment applications online and by calling 888-209-8124. They got rid of the 1-week waiting period so make sure you apply during the first week you are out of work. The website and phonelines are slow, but be patient and get your claim in.  The press has reported on a supplement to unemployment insurance as part of the stimulus.  This money is not yet available, but we will update you as soon as those benefits are released.
  • Mortgage Relief.  New York State regulated financial institutions have been told to help eligible homeowners with trouble making mortgage payments for a period of 90 days because of COVID-19.  Call the Department of Financial Services for further help at 1-800-342-3736.
  • Eviction Protection.  Starting Tuesday, March 17, 2020, New York officials have indefinitely suspended pending eviction proceedings and pending orders proceedings.  The internal administrative rule was announced in a memo from  New York’s Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks and will apply to all evictions, including commercial evictions.  A tenants’ rights English and Spanish hotline is also available most afternoons at 212-979-0611 and additional guidance is available online.
  • Rental adjustment for affordable housing residents. NYCHA is working with its tenants experiencing partial or total loss of income.  Adjusted rents are available. Find more information here.  NYC Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Section 8 voucher holders having trouble paying rent because of income loss should email

We will continuously update the COVID-19 link on our website ( as more resources become available. Your Local 79 Organizers and Business Agents remain available to take your calls and answer all your questions to the best of our ability. We will continue to update you as quickly and responsibly as possible.

Remember – stay vigilant in protecting your physical and mental health, and that of your family. Ask for assistance when you need it. We are a family, and we will do what families do – protect and care for each other.

In safety and solidarity,

Mike Prohaska